By LIM MUN FAH
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
Last year, DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang listed Johor as one of the front-line states. Since then, Johor seems to have become a decisive battlefield between the ruling and alternative coalitions.
Heads of the BN and the Pakatan Rakyat, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim have recently paid frequent visits to Johor. Najib, in particular, has visited the state for three times in two months.
Looking into the election history, Johor had never been a major battlefield as in the past 12 general elections, it had never been the cup of tea for the opposition. Johor received only slight impacts from major political events, including the Reformasi movement and the 2008 general election.
Times have, after all, changed. After learning a lesson from the 2008 political tsunami, the BN no longer dares to take it lightly even if Pakatan Rakyat's declaration to seize Johor is only a rave.
Johor is a big state with 26 parliamentary seats and 56 state seats. In the 2008 general election, the Johor BN lost only one parliamentary seat and 6 state seats. It has contributed a lot in keeping the BN in power.
It seems like a strong fortress for the BN. Subtly, it is also a "life-saving state" for the MCA, the Gerakan and the MIC. Seven of the 15 parliamentary seats and 12 of the 35 state seats of the MCA are in Johor. As for the Gerakan, one of its two parliamentary seats and 2 of its four state seats are in Johor. Similar to the MIC, one of its three parliamentary seats and four of its seven state seats are in Johor.
The three BN component parties have been relying heavily on Johor. In other words, if anything happens to Johor in the next general election, it could affect the overall situation and hit the BN's regime. It might be one of the reasons explaining the Prime Minister's frequent visits to the state.
However, Johor Bahru member of Parliament Datuk Sharir Samad optimistically forecast that the situation in the 2008 general election would not repeat in the state and instead, the BN has a higher chance of winning compared to the previous election. It is because more Malays in Johor are supporting the BN while Chinese voters have not shown much change in their voting tendency.
Has Sharir been over optimistic? I don't want to jump to the conclusion. However, I would like to remind him that it is not true to say that there is not much change in the voting tendency of the Chinese. It is better for the BN to be cautious or it might caught in an unexpected dilemma!
Of course, not many people, including Pakatan Rakyat grassroots leaders, are confident that the Johor Pakatan Rakyat does really have the strength to take over the state.
All in all, the people wish for a change and politics is capricious. It is useless to talk so much and the only way to victory would be to convince voters to vote for you!